Published: Tuesday, 05 September 2017

The 28th Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup gets underway. The talk on the dock is all about the prospect of a week of racing among the behemoths of the sailing world. 

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Sets Celebratory Tone 1

(Photos: Rolex)

Fifty yachts, all over 60ft, have entered the race and are primed for the sporting contest that lies ahead. With the organising club, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS), marking its 50th anniversary this year, there is a positive and celebratory mood among the owners and crew despite strong winds having kept boats tied firmly to the dock over the past two days.

Launched in 1980 by the YCCS, itself founded in 1967 by H.H. the Aga Khan among others, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is held in conjunction with the International Maxi Association (IMA) and enjoys the support of Rolex, title sponsor since 1985.

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Sets Celebratory Tone 2

(The Maxi  72 fleet) 

Principal Race Officer, Peter Craig, is looking forward to getting the 2017 event started: “It’s a robust looking fleet, with plenty of competition throughout the classes. The yachts have been divided using traditional Maxi class splits with a subdivision of the Mini Maxi Racer/Cruisers to ensure ‘like races like’ in this the largest of the participating classes.”

Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of the YCCS expressed the club’s feeling for the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup: “The YCCS has always had a special rapport with the world of Maxi yachts and I want to extend a warm welcome to the owners that come back to Porto Cervo every year and to those who are participating for the first time. This is a special year for us because we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary." 

The atmosphere was reflected by Andrew McIrvine, Secretary- General of the IMA: “It’s an excellent entry for this year’s event and it’s rather special that we have the number of boats matching the age of the YCCS. We have great expectations for this wonderful competition.”

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup Sets Celebratory Tone 3

(Maxi Racer Rambler 88)

The seven principal classes are: Maxi 72, racing for their World Championship; Wally; Supermaxi; Maxi Racer; Maxi Racer/Cruiser; Mini Maxi Racer and Mini Maxi Racer/ Cruiser, which is split into two groups.

The five-strong Supermaxi fleet looks a prospect with four past class winners in Nilaya, Viriella, Inoui and, 2016 debutante Win Win, along with the relatively unknown newcomer Ribelle adding spice to the mix. The Wally fleet has its customary strength in depth with four crews having won previously at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, including champion Open Season, Y3K, Magic Carpet Cubed and J One.

The Maxi 72s will undoubtedly provide fireworks as they pursue their World Championship. Bella Mente is looking to defend her title against Momo, Caol Ila R, Proteus and the impressively fast Cannonball, another yacht competing at the event for the first time.